Pinot & Pineapple Lumps
(Southern Lights #4)
Publication date: March 18th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance
Penn from Adelaide. That’s all I knew.
We shared a single kiss over a year ago, and I can still remember every toe-curling second of it. He thought I was too young for him. I thought he was running scared. But that kiss was the first time I’d felt alive in a long time, and I’ve been chasing the feeling ever since—doing my research, a lot of research, a lot of men. Something my protective older brother isn’t too happy about.
I’ve been through more than most guys my age, and I still bear the scars. My head’s not always my best friend, but I’m building a life, PTSD be damned. I can’t turn back the clock, and I’m not sure I want to.
Except maybe to that moment when Penn kissed me. I mean, the odds of us ever meeting again were slim to none, right?
Yeah, about that.
But this time I’m ready. I’m a year older, an ocean of therapy wiser, and I know exactly what I want.
“Okay, then for your first tip, only take a small mouthful.”
Kurt sniggered. “I’m more of a take the whole lot to the back of your throat and swallow kind of guy, but I’m sure I can adapt, just for you.”
Sweet Jesus. “I have every faith that you can make the necessary modifications,” Penn deadpanned.
“Excellent redirect.” Kurt chuckled. “Must be those eleventy-billion years longer you’ve spent on earth than me.”
“For fuck’s sake, just take a damn taste and tell me what you think.”
Kurt laughed. “There are so many, many ways to respond to that question—”
“Just do it.”
“Yes sir. Okay, I’m going in for a sniff, but you have to promise not to get mad if I pick up a lot more than you. It’s to be expected. Nasal hairs flatten as you age, it’s not your fault.”
Penn wondered how difficult it would be to arrange a long slow death for the young man.
Kurt took his time. “Mmmm, aha, interesting—”
Tipsy Kurt was too damn cute.
“Okay, okay, I think I’ve got it,” Kurt pronounced, sounding exceedingly pleased with himself. “It’s kind of . . . earthy, and oh, oh, oh, I know . . . it’s got a spicy thing in there. Damn, I recognise it, I just can’t—it smells like Ethan when he’s been bak—cinnamon! That’s it.”
“Huh.” Penn had to hand it to him. “Pretty good. Anything else.”
Kurt sniffed again and Penn’s mind went straight where it shouldn’t.
“Nope, that’s all.”
“Okay. Not bad for a rookie. Now take a sip and roll it over your tongue and around your mouth to pick up all the flavours.”
“Then I can swallow, right? I like to swallow.”
“Yes, Kurt. Then you can swallow.” Death by killer bees.
“My favourite part.”
Penn banged the back of his head on the tree trunk a couple of times as a variety of suggestive noises spilled through the phone, most of which he’d never heard in any wine tasting he’d ever attended, and all of which went straight to his traitorous cock. Death by a million needle pricks.
“Damn that was a big mouthful but I got it down safely—just thought you should know.”
“And I’m pleased to say I have more answers for you.”
“I can’t wait.”
“Okay, here goes.” Kurt cleared his throat. “Berries.”
“I believe we’ve covered that.”
“Hush. And chocolate—”
“Not chocolate, chocolate. But you know those chewy Roses’ ones? Hard something—”
For fuck’s sake. “Caramel, yes, very good. A lot of people miss that one.” Kurt’s palate actually had potential, who’d have guessed?
“See? I told you I’d ace this.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.”
“But there was also something nasty.”
“Nasty?” Penn snorted. “Oh I cannot wait to hear this.”
“No, I’m serious,” Kurt protested. “Like sharp and just . . . blech. Like paint stripper. You don’t notice it when you drink it like normal people, but when you drink it slowly, it’s right fucking there.” He shivered dramatically for effect.
Penn could barely keep his shit together and had to clear his throat. “I believe you’re talking about tannin. And actually, Pinot Noir tends to be lighter in it than a lot of other reds. But trust me when I say it’s not usually described as a gaggable commodity. Most people love it.”
“A gaggable commodity, huh? You seem familiar with the phrase. You want to expand on that?”
“No, I do not.” Penn’s cheeks heated out of sheer ridiculousness.
“Surprise, surprise. Anyway that’s all I’ve got.”
Kurt had mischief in his eyes. “Well, I hope you don’t mind that I started without you? Arlo’s been introducing me to his family’s wine. He’s very enthusiastic.” He was clearly enjoying Penn’s discomfort immensely.
“I just bet he was.” Penn flicked a gaze to Arlo who appeared completely oblivious to the mood. “How very . . . kind of him.”
“But dammit, I keep forgetting not to swallow.” Kurt kept those electric blue eyes pinned on Penn. “It simply goes against my nature. Aaaaand, I might be just a wee bit tipsy.” He held his thumb and first finger, barely apart.
Fucking adorable. “So, I see.” Penn bit back a smile and dragged his gaze back to Arlo who was watching them with interest. “Arlo.” Penn proffered his hand.
Arlo accepted. “Penn, good to see you
And if Penn squeezed a little harder than necessary, that was between him and Arlo, who clearly noticed by crease on his brow, and the look he shot between Penn and Kurt. If Penn could be any more of a dick, he wasn’t sure how. “Thanks for helping Kurt out, but I can take it from here.”
A snort came from somewhere to Penn’s right, but he ignored it. He didn’t need to see Kurt’s expression to know he was being a complete and utter dipshit.
Still wearing a frown, Arlo looked to Kurt. “Is that what you want, Kurt? We’re only halfway through. Maybe Penn could come back later? I’d love to finish the full tasting with you.”
I just bet you would.
Kurt arched a brow at Penn, who then felt even more of a jerk.
What the fuck am I doing? And yes, the phrase was seeing a lot of mileage in his current life.
“Of course I can do that.” The words ground out like steel shavings from Penn’s mouth, but he did his best to convey to Kurt every ounce of apology the man deserved. “Arlo’s wines are excellent. It’s totally up to you.”
Kurt’s warm hand landed on his arm just for a second and then it was gone. “Thanks Arlo, but I’m good. Penn and I had agreed to do the rounds of tastings together. Perhaps I can visit your winery instead, another day.”
Arlo cast another cryptic look between them, and then nodded. “Sure. Call first and I’ll make sure I’m free. I’ll give you the grand tour, just the two of us.” He shot a pointed look Penn’s way.
Penn blinked. “You want to stay?”
“No, I want to talk. But that being off the table, yes, I want you to introduce me to the wines you love. You explained you’re more of a white wine guy, so, educate me.”
The challenge was clear and Penn was certainly up for it. “All right, I can show you a few of my top ten, the ones that are here, but just so you know, I’ll definitely be spitting. You can do what you like although I’m guessing I know the answer. I’ll see you safely home.”
Kurt blushed prettily. “Yeah, I suck at the whole spitting thing to be honest. But I’m kind of hoping whites are more to my taste. I didn’t have the heart to tell Arlo his family’s prize-winning Pinot Noir tasted like horse’s arse to me.”
Penn threw back his head and laughed. “God, I wish you had. His parents are pretty pompous about their wines. Pisses the rest of us off.”
Kurt shrugged. “Arlo was actually pretty nice.”
And Penn knew that. Arlo was a nice guy. “He was practically drooling,” Penn observed without thinking. The comment wasn’t cool and Kurt shot him a look to confirm that. “Sorry. And you’re right, Arlo is fine. I went to school with him, and he clearly likes you. You should absolutely go visit their winery. It’s beautiful.”
Kurt studied Penn like he was trying to decipher what the hell was going on in Penn’s head.
Good luck with that.
“He must also be around the same age as you, then,” Kurt pointed out, eyes sharp as flint.
Kurt continued to stare. “Mmm, fancy that. Well, I will definitely be taking him up on his offer to give me the grand tour of their vineyard. Thanks for vouching for him.” His mouth curved up in a slow smile. “I’ll let you know what I think.”
Oh that cheeky . . .
Heart, Humour, & Keepin’ It Real
2020 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST IN GAY ROMANCE for her novel ‘DIGGING DEEP’
Jay is a New Zealand author writing in MM romance and romantic suspense primarily set in New Zealand. She loves writing character driven romances with lots of humour, a good dose of reality and a splash of angst. She’s travelled extensively, lived in many countries, and in a past life she was a critical care nurse, nurse educator and counsellor.
Jay is owned by a huge Maine Coon cat and a gorgeous Cocker Spaniel.
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